So you’ve figured out Monday, set your DVR, Hulu queue, etc. And you got ready for Tuesday, only to find out that the USA network and ABC Family have jumped into the mix. And there are some hard hitters to deal with.
[Note: I’m only including new, narrative television, so I won’t be taking on Teen Mom. You’re on your own for that kids.]
Tuesday’s Child is Atmospheric and Sophomoric (In the Best Way)
Pretty Little Liars (ABC Family)
The teen cult hit based on the bestselling book series returns for more secrets. No, seriously, this show is built on the same story engine as Lost. You will not get answers quickly. You might not get answers ever. You have been warned.
Someone named A is stalking four upperclass teenage girls in a small town because s/he knows a dark secret that they share. Think of it as I Know What You Did Last Summer but with a smaller body count. Be prepared to be sidetracked from the mystery by some CW style complications including cell phone drama, out of it parents, and some great hot for teacher storylines. (Full disclosure, that teacher is played by CMU alum Ian Harding, a lovely (and very handsome) human being.) Beware, this show requires a pretty faithful viewership, otherwise you are going to be super, super lost. But with no real new competition, Pretty Little Liars can effectively own the 8 o’clock slot.
Memphis Beat (TNT)
Jason Lee (Dogma and My Name Is Earl) stars as musician and detective Dwight Hendricks of the Memphis police force. The second season of this show brings more of the same as leisurely Dwight butts heads with Alfre Woodard’s Lt. Rice. Sam Hennings and DJ Qualls are the police supporting cast, and TV “that lady” Celia Weston (Modern Family) plays Hendricks’ beloved mother. The most interesting bit about this show is the pace and atmosphere. Much like shows like True Blood and Boston Legal (less so Rizzoli & Isles), Memphis Beat builds its stories around its setting. This means that the pace of the show is more leisurely than the multitude of cop shows set in Los Angeles and New York. It also means Jason Lee sings. So’s you know.
The Nine Lives of Chloe King (ABC Family)
Chloe King is a cat person. Well not like the horror movie Cat People, but she is a member of a small, hunted tribe of people with catlike powers called the Mai. Turns out human assassins have been hunting down the Mai for centuries, and Chloe is the Chosen One who has to save her people. While the show has some fun, Buffy emulating dialogue, in many ways Chloe King is a retread of very familiar ground and familiar plotholes. (Why are the humans able to defeat the superpowered Mai?) The show is workable for a teen audience, but when it goes up against USA, it’s a very hard fight.
White Collar (USA)
Remember Catch Me If You Can? Well take the last five minutes, recast it, and you’ve got the uneasy buddy cop show White Collar. Matt Bomer plays the Frank Abagnale surrogate and Tim DeKay replaces Agent Joe Shea (Carl Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can) who uses the ex-con’s skills for the good ole FBI. White Collar sizzles as a case of the week show, but it’s the cast that real shines. Willie Garson’s Moz is even more fun than his fellow conspiracy theorist Jack Hodgins (Bones.) Bomer and DeKay could hold the show by themselves, but Garson always makes me come back for more.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Michael Vartan star in this hospital retread. Though the cast is strong, ER and Grey’s Anatomy have exhausted most of the hospital tropes (and pun related titles. Seriously, HawthoRNe? C’mon guys.) Both Pinkett Smith and Vartan are great actors, and well…Marc Anthony’s there. But the writing of the show hardly ever reaches the quality of the cast, especially when the title character becomes a bit of a Mary Sue. But what can you do anymore with a doctor show? (*cough* Thank you Awesome Hospital *cough*)
Covert Affairs (USA)
This spy thriller from USA is a great pregame shot for the network’s other action hit Burn Notice. Covert Affairs is about new CIA operative Annie Walker as she completes assignments with her multicultural and differently abled team while hiding her real job from her working mom sister. Covert Affairs invokes the Bourne movies with almost pitch-perfect accuracy. (They ought to. They share Bourne producer Doug Liman, who has started to specialize in spy media.) Yet the heart of the show is its likable, incredibly competant heroine and gorgeous action sequences. Also blind, frequently shirtless communications specialist Auggie Anderson. Auggie is the best.
As the show spins back around to the reason Annie got into the CIA in the first place, Covert Affairs could topple Burn Notice for King of the Spies. (King is gender neutral term in this case.)
Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards) is your typical awkward teenager, trying to figure out dating, math, and high school until a series of misunderstandings and a freak accident make everyone thing she tried (and failed) to commit suicide. Jenna’s forced to attend therapy with a clingy, stalkerish school counselor, her best friend starts to fight with her, and suddenly people are noticing her. In kind of a good way. Because of her suicide attempt. AWKWARD.
Yeah, awkward is right. This show is just on its first steps, so it’s a little unfair to judge it off of the pilot. That said….this show could be a perfect blend of Easy A and Heathers, but we’re living in a post Columbine world, a world that needs The Trevor Project. Lines like Heathers’ “Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make.” become a lot less funny as teen suicide became (thankfully) more visible. I’m not sure I can trust MTV to be as careful as they should be with this show. Yet, as Veronica Sawyer puts it so beautifully in Heathers “Suicide gave Heather depth, Kurt a soul, and Ram a brain. I don’t know what it’s given me.”
See you on Thursday for Wednesday guys!